Soup is delicious.

Growing up, I was never one for soups.  I didn’t really see the point in them.  Why would I want to have to chase and capture my veggies through some liquid medium?  I much prefer them sitting merrily on my plate, looking up at me with their healthful smiles (she knows vegetables don’t smile, right?).  Not looking like a character out of The Ring… drowning in a bowl in front of me.  But, the older I get… I find myself craving soups.  And turns out… soup is delicious!  They are so flexible, and can be so flavorful and nutrient packed… not too mention they are easy.  Plus, now I can make/write about soup instead of studying for my impending Chemical Biology Exam.  Solid phase peptide synthesis and bioorthogonal chemistry just don’t compare to this Italian Wedding Soup.  Ok, I admit… I kind of like those other things, too… but this soup came out better than my current studying is, so that is what I am going to share with you today (try not to be too disappointed).

This is yet another mom-inspired dinner.  She made this for her and my father last week, spoke highly of it, and I have been craving it since.  Note, I had never actually had Italian Wedding Soup before, since it traditionally has meat in it.  But, I have this weird “gift” of craving things I have never eaten before.  I think the worst was when I was cleaning out my boyfriend’s microwave after his roommate had a lasagna incident in it… and then I craved lasagna for weeks.  Who craves something after cleaning old, caked on pieces of it out of a microwave?  Anyways, this soup is wonderfully simple and even more wonderfully delicious.  I upped the health factor with some kale and barley, over the traditional pasta and escarole, and it really works!  No longer are my veggies drowning, but rather they are basking in a Parmigiano swimming pool!

Italian Wedding Soup
Materials:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 piece Parmigiano rind (I studied abroad in Parma and am a bit of a Parmigiano-Reggiano snob.  This ingredient is really critical for this dish.  Look for the real “DOP” (Denominazione di origine protetta) stuff at whole foods or Berkeley Bowl.)
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2 ribs celery (Chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic (Minced)
  • 1/2 cup barley (rinsed)
  • 1 bunch kale (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 package veggie meatballs (look in the frozen section of your health food store)

Methods:
  1. Add the broth and Parmigiano rind in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add the barley to the broth and cover.
  3. Cook for about 30 minutes.
    • There are going to be some seriously wonderful smells in your kitchen at this point in time.
  4. Add olive oil to sauce pan over medium heat and add onion, celery, fennel seeds, salt and pepper.
  5. Cook until the veggies soften, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, about 40 seconds.
  7. Transfer mixture into the Dutch oven with the broth.
  8. Bring broth to a simmer over medium heat.
  9. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the barley is cooked.
  10. Add the kale and veggie balls and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  11. Enjoy! 

This soup is so flavorful, I just can’t get enough of it!  The earthiness of the kale and barley, plus the saltiness from the Parmigiano and the sweetness from the fennel seeds.  The veggie meatballs give it a nice heartiness so you leave your meal completely full and satisfied.  You are going to want to make large batches of this… since I promise you will crave it for days after.

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